Michelle Badash, MS
Cholera is a bacterial infection.
Certain bacteria cause cholera. They grow and release a toxin in the small bowel. You get it when you drink water or eat food that had contact with infected human stool.
Cholera is common in places that don’t have proper sewage treatment. Outbreaks still happen around the world.
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Cholera is more common in children aged 2-5 years. Your risk may be higher if you:
Live or travel to places where cholera is common
Are exposed to contaminated water or seafood
Are in blood group O
Some people don’t have symptoms. If they do appear, they may cause:
Rapid onset of lots of watery
without blood or pus
Diarrhea causes rapid fluid loss. Without care, cholera can lead to shock or death.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms, and health and travel history. They may suspect cholera based on these facts and a physical exam. If needed, stool tests will confirm a diagnosis.
The goal of care is to replace lost fluids. Rehydration solutions are available as an IV or by mouth. Antibiotics fight the infection and help you get healthy faster.
Adults aged 18-64 years can get a vaccine. You may need it before you travel to places where cholera is common. If you don’t get the vaccine before you leave, you may have to take it when you arrive.
Also, when traveling to these places:
Drink only bottled or boiled water (and use it to wash your food)
Eat only well-cooked foods that are served hot
Don’t eat raw or undercooked shellfish
Don’t eat salads or raw vegetables that you haven’t peeled yourself
Don’t wash food in local water
Keep rehydration solution handy and use it if you get diarrhea
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
World Health Organization
http://www.who.int CANADIAN RESOURCES:
Public Health Agency of Canada
Cholera. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
https://www.cdc.gov/cholera/general/index.html. Updated May 11, 2018. Accessed May 23, 2018.
Cholera. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
Updated April 26, 2018. Accessed May 23, 2018.
Cholera. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/infectious-diseases/gram-negative-bacilli/cholera. Updated April 2018. Accessed May 23, 2018.
Cholera. World Health Organization website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL) Updated February 1, 2018. Accessed May 23, 2018.
Farmer P, Almazor CP, Bahnsen ET, et al. Meeting cholera's challenge to Haiti and the world: A joint statement on cholera prevention and care.
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Ryan ET. The cholera pandemic, still with us after half a century: Time to rethink.
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Last reviewed May 2018 by
David L. Horn, MD, FACP Last Updated: 5/23/2018